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An obscure story by Alfred Hitchcock

Last night I was rolling an Alfred Hitchcock interview from the seventies. When the interviewer underhandedly commented on the sick mind that must be lurking behind all his stories, Hitch outdid himself and told an absolute doozy. Goes something like this, slightly Americanized:

A salesman was traveling through the desert in his car when the rear axle broke. Stranded in the middle of nowhere, nearly 150 miles from the nearest town, he got out of his car and scanned the horizon. There in the distance was a house on an oasis. He trudged over.

Arriving at the house, the salesman knocked on the door. A dapper gentleman answered, and the salesman explained his predicament. The dapper gentleman informed the salesman that the nearest town was 150 miles behind him, and he’d best stay a night or two at the oasis while the butler towed the car in for repairs. Finding it a wonderful idea, and frankly having no other choice, the salesman accepted the gracious offer.

The dapper gentleman took the man upstairs and showed him to the guest room. He invited him to wash up and come downstairs for a cocktail.

The salesman came downstairs as invited, and was greeted by the dapper gentleman and two attractive women. The dapper gentleman handed the salesman a cocktail, and explained that the two women were his wife and daughter.

“Wow,” the salesman said. “You’re both very attractive. So attractive, in fact, that I can’t even tell which one’s the mother. I’d even guess you were sisters.”

After a few cocktails and dinner, the man retired to his room for the evening. At about midnight, as he was dozing off in the dark, he heard the bedroom door open. He reached for the table lamp and began to turn it on when he heard a woman’s voice at the door. “No, don’t turn the light on. Keep it off.”

“Which one are you?” the salesman asked. “The wife or the daughter?”

“I’d rather not say.”

A few seconds later, the salesman heard the woman approaching the bed, yet was still unable to identify her face. The woman explained that she’s been living out here in the middle of the desert, a lonely existence, and her heart throbbed to see such a handsome stranger drop in for a visit. The woman took a seat at the edge of the bed, caressing the man’s hand. Before long, she was under the covers, and the inevitable ensued.

At about four a.m., as dawn began to break, the woman stood up in the dark and said she had to go before it got light. She disappeared through the bedroom door.

The next morning, downstairs, the salesman enjoyed coffee and breakfast with the dapper gentleman, the wife, and the daughter. Still curious as to who was in his room the night before, the man pried, questioning, making eye contact with the two women. Yet since their voices were so similar, he was unable to determine who the visitor was.

That evening, at about midnight, the man was once again lying in his dark room. The visitor came to the door once more.

“It’s me again.”

“Which one are you?” the salesman asked.

“I’d rather not say.”

Accepting the answer, the man obliged as the woman crawled in to join him. Again, they enjoyed a warm evening together. And again, at four a.m., the shadowy woman got out of bed and disappeared out the bedroom door.

The next morning, downstairs at breakfast, the curious salesman made even more eye contact with the women, looking for a sign, determined to identify which of them had been visiting him the two previous nights. Yet still, because they looked so similar, he was unable to pin it down.

After breakfast, the butler arrived with the car. The salesman grabbed his things, and walked outside with the dapper gentleman, thanking him for his hospitality and grace.

As the salesman got into his car, he asked the dapper gentleman the obvious question.

“Why is it that you and your family live all the way out here in the middle of nowhere, one hundred and fifty miles from the nearest town?”

The dapper gentleman explained.

“It’s because of my daughter.”

“Your daughter?” the salesman asked. “Why would she choose to live in isolation? She seemed fine to me.”

The dapper gentleman noticed the salesman’s misunderstanding.

“Oh, no, not Margaret,” the dapper gentleman said. “I’m talking about my younger daughter, Elizabeth. We keep her out in the barn.”

“The barn?”

“Yes, the barn,” the dapper gentleman said. “She’s a leper.”

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